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Lawmakers seek FBI information on pro-life arrests and indictments | National Catholic Register


Republican House and Senate lawmakers wrote to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday seeking information on the recent spate of arrests and indictments of nonviolent pro-lifers, contrasting those investigations with the FBI’s relative silence on the numerous documented arson and vandalism attacks against pro-life entities this year.

In the Oct. 12 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, more than three dozen Republican lawmakers questioned why the bureau appears to disproportionately target pro-lifers under the Freedom of Entry Act. Clinics (FACE) – which is designed to protect pro-life clinics as well as abortion clinics.

“Overzealous prosecution under the FACE Act weaponizes the power of federal law enforcement against American citizens in what should firmly be state and local affairs. Moreover, these abuses of federal power against pro-life Americans based solely on their beliefs undermine the trust of the American people in the FBI,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was organized by Texas Representative Chip Roy and Utah Senator Mike Lee.

The FACE law, passed in 1994, is a federal law that prohibits, among other things, the blocking of access to abortion clinics. According to the DOJ, the law is intended to protect all patients, providers, and facilities that provide reproductive health services, “including pro-life pregnancy counseling services and any other pregnancy support facilities providing care.” reproductive health”. The law also protects freedom of access to places of worship.

The FACE Act has been in the news recently due to a number of high-profile indictments of nonviolent pro-life protesters. Philadelphia pro-life leader and father of seven, Mark Houck, was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 23 after an escort from the Planned Parenthood Clinic alleged that Houck pushed him twice, causing him to fall to the ground every time. Later in September, Father Fidelis Moscinski, 52, a priest of the Franciscan Friars of Renewal, was charged under the FACE law for a non-violent demonstration in July in which he padlocked the door of a clinic in ‘abortion. And in early October, 11 people were charged under the FACE Act for their actions during a pro-life protest in March 2021.

The arrests and indictments of pro-life protesters highlight the fact that there is no evidence of FBI investigations or DOJ prosecutions related to rising violence directed at pro-life individuals and institutions. life since May 2022.

CNA has recorded nearly 100 abortion-motivated attacks on churches, pregnancy centers and other entities in the United States since the May 2 leak of a draft opinion showing that the Supreme Court of United States was about to overturn Roe v. Wade and to refer the issue of legalizing abortion to the states.

“[T]there have been no reports of FBI investigations or DOJ prosecutions “in connection with these attacks, the letter says -“[H]heinous, violent, and organized crimes across state lines that are also prosecutable under the FACE Act.

“It is clear that careful congressional scrutiny of the FBI’s use of the FACE Act is necessary to ensure that the FBI implements it as intended by Congress and, if not , to determine whether the FBI can continue to be entrusted with this authority,” the letter said. .

The letter writers concluded by requesting information from the FBI on the number of FACE Act investigations opened per year from 2019 to the present; the number of investigations involving abortion clinics, pregnancy centers and places of worship; and several questions about the criteria the office uses to decide whether or not to open a FACE Act case, the amount of resources the office devotes to investigating FACE Act cases; and whether the DOJ has issued new internal guidance regarding the FACE Act since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

One of the signatories to the letter, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, introduced the Protect Pregnancy Care Centers Act of 2022 in late September, which has attracted more than a dozen co-sponsors and is supported by national organizations. pro-life, including SBA Pro-Life America, the March for Life, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.